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Twenty-three Answers 

by as many Religious Teachers 

to the Question 

What are the strongest proofs and argu- 
ments in support of the belief in a life 
hereafter ? 


MA.. 10 1888 W 



/ $ ft 7 

Copyright, 1888, 

Press of 



The Boston Herald, recognizing the 
interest felt by persons of every shade of 
religious belief in the great question of the 
Hereafter, published in its issue for Christ- 
mas Day, 1887, responses by leading relig- 
ious thinkers to the query submitted to 
them. The publication of these replies 
aroused so much interest that their issue 
in permanent form has appeared desirable. 
This little volume, published with the con- 
sent and approval of the Boston Herald, 
comprises the twenty-three responses re- 
ceived, and the editorial that accompanied 


Three messengers to me from heaven came, 

And said: " There is a deathless human soul — 
It is not lost, as is the fiery flame 

That dies into the un distinguishing whole. 
Ah, no; it separate is, distinct as God — 

Nor any more than he can it be killed ; 
Then fearless give thy body to the clod, 

For naught can quench the light that once it filled! " 
Three messengers — the first was human Love; 

The second voice came crying in the night, 
With strange and awful music from above — 

None who have heard that voice forget it quite ; 
Birth is it named. The third, O, turn not pale ! — 

'Twas Death to the undying soul cried, Hail ! 

— B. W. Gilder. 

" The mystery of the beginning of all 
things is insoluble by us/' said the great 
scientist Darwin, and in his doctrine of 
evolution he probably went as far back as 
any one has ; but what most concerns us 
is the hereafter. " For myself/' wrote 
Darwin, "I do not believe that there has 
ever been any revelation. As for a future 



life, eveiy man must judge for himself 
between conflicting probabilities." This 
eminent man confessed himself an agnos- 
tic, and the recent publication of his 
"Life and Letters" has called forth con- 
siderable comment on his views concerning 
God and immortality. Following is a 
quotation from a letter written by him : — 

" At the present day, the most usual 
argument for the existence of an intelli- 
gent God is drawn from the deep inward 
conviction and feelings which are experi- 
enced by most persons. Formerly I was 
led by feelings such as those just referred 
to (although I do not think that the 
religious sentiment was ever strongly 
developed in me) to the firm conviction of 
the existence of God, and of the immor- 
tality of the soul. In my journal I wrote 
that, while standing in the midst of the 
grandeur of a Brazilian forest, 'it is not 
possible to give an adequate idea of the 
higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and 
devotion which fill and elevate the mind.' 


I well remember my conviction that there 
is more in man than the mere breath of 
his body. But now the grandest scenes 
would not cause any such convictions and 
feelings to rise in my mind. It may be 
truly said that I am like a man who has 
become color-blind, and the universal 
belief by men of the existence of redness 
makes my present loss of perception of not 
the least value as evidence. This argu- 
ment would be a valid one if all men of 
all races had the same inward conviction 
of the existence of one God ; but we know 
that this is very far from being the case. 
Therefore I cannot see that such inward 
convictions and feelings are of any weight 
as evidence of what really exists. The 
state of mind which grand scenes formerly 
excited in me, and which was intimately 
connected with a belief in God, did not 
essentially differ from that which is often 
called the sense of sublimity ; and however 
difficult it may be to explain the genesis of 
this sense, it can hardly be advanced as 
an argument for the existence of God, any 



more than the powerful, though vague 
and similar feelings excited by music. 
With respect to immortality, nothing shows 
me [so clearly] how strong and almost 
instinctive a belief it is as the considera- 
tion of the view now held by most physi- 
cists, namely, that the sun, with all the 
planets, will, in time, grow too cold for 
life, unless, indeed, some great body dashes 
into the sun and thus gives it fresh life. 
Believing, as I do, that man in the dis- 
tant future will be a far more perfect 
creature than he now is, it is an intolera- 
ble thought that he and all other sentient 
beings are doomed to complete annihila- 
tion after such long-continued slow prog- 
ress. To those who fully admit the 
immortality of the human soul, the de- 
struction of our world will not appear so 
dreadful. Another source of conviction in 
the existence of God, connected with the 
reason and not with the feelings, im- 
presses me as having much more weight. 
This follows from the extreme difficulty, 
or rather impossibility, of conceiving this 


immense and wonderful universe, includ- 
ing man with his capacity of looking 
far backward and far into futurity, 
as the result of blind chance or ne- 
cessity. When thus reflecting, I feel 
compelled to look to a first cause having 
an intelligent mind, in some degree analo- 
gous to that of man ; and I deserve to be 
called a theist. This conclusion was strong 
in my mind about the time, as far as I can 
remember, when I wrote the ' Origin of 
Species,' and it is since that time that it 
has very gradually, with many fluctua- 
tions, become weaker. But then arises the 
doubt, Can the mind of man, which has, as 
I fully believe, been developed from a 
mind as low as that possessed by the low- 
est animals, be trusted when it draws such 
grand conclusions ? I cannot pretend to 
throw the least light on such abstruse 

Thus Darwin leaves us entirely in the 
dark. However, there is no doubt that 
every person hopes for, if he does not be- 


lieve in, a future existence. What many 
desire is some more tangible proof of a life 

Thoughtful and learned men, in thou- 
sands of pulpits, are constantly urging and 
imploring mankind to prepare for life be- 
yond the grave, and thundering forth 
warnings of the fate that awaits them if 
they fail to do so. To these, then, we 
turn for light on the great question of im- 
mortality. They declare a firm belief that, 
although a man die, yet shall he live 
again. As a presentation of the views of 
religious leaders on this subject cannot fail 
to be of great interest, prominent men in 
various denominations have been asked for 
replies to the following question, for pub- 
lication : — 

" What are the strongest proofs and 
arguments in support of the belief in a life 
hereafter ?" 

The responses are given in the following 


Preface 3 

Introduction 11 

Eev. James Freeman Clarke, pastor Church of the 

Disciples (Congregational-Unitarian), Boston . . 19 

Rev. Joseph Cook, author and lecturer, Boston . . 24 

Rev. George A. Gordon, pastor New Old South 

Church (Congregational-Trinitarian), Boston . . 28 

Rev. I. T. Hecker, editor Catholic World, New York, 32 

Rev. C. A. Bartol, pastor West Church (Congrega- 
tional), Boston 36 

Rev. A. A. Miner, pastor Second Universalist Church, 

Boston 38 

Rev. W aye and Hoyt, pastor Memorial Baptist 

Church, Philadelphia 43 

Very Rev. John Hog an, president St. John's Semi- 
nary (Catholic), Brighton, Mass 45 

Rev. Solomon Schindler, rabbi Temple Adath Israel 

(Reformed Jewish Church), Boston 47 

Rev. Julian K. Smyth, pastor Roxbury Church of the 

New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian) 53 

Rev. Emory J. Haynes, pastor Union Temple Bap- 
tist Church, Boston 59 

Rev. Brooke Herford, pastor Arlington Street 

Church (Congregational-Unitarian), Boston . . 62 

Rev. Samuel E. Herrick, pastor Mt. Yernon Church 

(Congregational-Trinitarian), Boston 66 

Rev. O. P. Gifford, pastor Warren Avenue Baptist 

Church, Boston 76 


Rev. P. S. Hen son, pastor First Baptist Church, Chi- 
cago 78 

Rev. Henry B. Whipple, bishop (Episcopal) of Min- 
nesota 81 

Rev. Percy Browne, rector St. James' Church (Epis- 
copal), Boston 87 

Rev. J. W. Hamilton, pastor First Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, Somerville, Mass 93 

William Q. Judge, F. T. S., New York ....... 98 

Rev. Lewis F. Stearns, professor Systematic Theol- 
ogy, Bangor Theological Society, Bangor, Me. . . 101 

Rev. A. J. Patterson, pastor First Universalist 

Church, Boston 106 

Rev. Henry W. Foote, pastor King's Chapel (Congre- 
gational-Unitarian), Boston 117 

Rev. William Wilberforce Newton, rector of St. 

Stephen's Church (Episcopal), Pittsfield, Mass. . 122 


The clergy of all sorts of creed beliefs 
who have kindly sent to the Herald their 
reasons for the belief in immortality have 
rendered a service far beyond their expecta- 
tions to our thoughtful readers, who may 
safely be estimated at a million for this 
issue. They have been asked to answer 
the question straight, — not to dicker with 
it, not to color it with their special theol- 
ogy, — and it is gratifying to find that 
members of the clerical profession, when 
compelled to say what they think in a 
quarter of a column, can say it so well and 
so unprofessionally. Most of these state- 
ments could be turned into editorials for the 
average newspaper to advantage. There is 
no verbiage, no wandering, no beating of 

the bush; they indicate, better than any- 



thing else, the sterling quality of the ethi- 
cal instruction which they are accustomed 
to dispense from the pulpit. The forcible 
way in which they state and justify the 
belief in immortality is one of the happiest 
illustrations of the power of conciseness 
and clearness in the statement of great 
truths. It is also an illustration of what 
the clergy can do when they stand for the 
universal consciousness. 

There are essentially but two points 
made in these affirmations of the proofs of 
immortality. One is that the constitution 
of man implies immortality ; the other is 
that the resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals 
it. It is best that each of these should be 
treated in their order. Fr. Hecker strikes 
at once into the heart of the subject when 
he affirms that " the human soul is a sub- 
stance, simple, indivisible, immaterial, spir- 
itual, having subsistence and life in itself." 
It is common to affirm that the senses and 
sensitive cognition are the permanent reali- 
ties ; but one can go only a little way in 
the knowledge of his own being before he 



learns that the human intellect is " one of 
the indestruetibles in nature, and the chief 
among all that exist on this earth." Rev. 
Percy Browne touches the reality of this 
spiritual hold on immortality finely, when 
he says of a man's faith as a pervading 
element in his personality : " It is because 
he feels an eternal quality in his life here 
on earth that he finds the idea of life eter- 
nal after death a natural, unspoken con- 
sciousness in his deepest self." Rev. George 
A. Gordon puts the case reasonably and 
truly, when he states that the strongest 
proof of immortality is that it is an essen- 
tial part of the order of thought that is 
bound up with the world's life. He be- 
lieves in the Christian interpretation of the 
universe. It is this largeness of view 
which gives one confidence. All the writ- 
ers have some conception of it ; but where 
it takes the form of a universal statement, 
it seems as if it had the effect of immediate 
conviction on one's mind and soul. Mr. 
William Q. Judge, the theosophist, speaks 
to the universal consciousness when he re- 


marks of the continuance of life that the 
question of immortality could not be asked 
unless " man had an instinct intuition that 
such continuance is a law." The sincerity 
and breadth and strength of these answers 
give one the assurance that there is a de- 
gree of intelligent conviction in regard to 
the fundamentals of our. religion, among 
our spiritual teachers, for which they do 
not always have sufficient credit. 

It remains to consider the resurrection of 
Jesus Christ in evidence of immortality. 
Rev. Henry W. Foote says that " the proof 
which Christianity gives of immortality 
rests on a broader and deeper foundation 
than isolated texts alone, or even than the 
Gospel record or the visible church. It is 
in the whole spirit of the religion which 
Jesus taught, and the new spirit which he 
breathed into humanity." But there is 
immense power in the testimony which is 
given historically to the veritable resurrec- 
tion of Jesus Christ. The testimony of St. 
Paul goes to show that at least two hun- 
dred and fifty persons were living when he 


wrote his epistles that had seen Jesus after 
he had risen from the dead ; and all the 
apostles sealed their belief- with entire con- 
secration to efforts for its dissemination as 
long as they lived. It is natural to like to 
leave the Gospel witness, because it seems 
to assume something beyond our immediate 
understanding ; it implies a change from 
physical to psychical constitution in our 
Lord's personality that men cannot under- 
stand. But it is the affirmation of just 
this verity of Christ's resurrection on 
which the visible church of Christ is found- 
ed, and from which it receives its spiritual 
authority. Take away Christ's veritable 
rising out of the tomb of Joseph of Ari- 
mathea, and you have reduced the Christian 
church to the dimensions of a merely hu- 
man institution, and given the lie to any- 
thing beyond man's instincts as to the real- 
ity of " our eternal hope." 

There is a point to be noticed here which 
is of great meaning in the unbelief of the 
day. It has just been raised in Darwin's 
" Autobiography," and it is coming up all 


the time in our experience of life. Darwin 
refused to act on his spiritual instincts and 
on the rules of historical evidence. He 
gave his life wonderfully to the processes 
of the inductive method, and dismissed 
from his thought the spiritual realities 
which it is the business of clergymen and 
others to formulate through the processes 
of spiritual law. This is also what is con- 
stantly done by the keen and practical in- 
tellects that are engrossed with human 
affairs. They give supreme attention to 
the laws of life, the laws of science, the 
laws of the natural order, and try to think 
of spiritual things by the laws that govern 
material interests. They are disappointed 
at the results, and give up in despair, when 
all the time their souls are thirsting for the 
message that God gave to men through 
Jesus Christ — a message which does not 
contradict the message that comes to us 
through the laws of the visible world, but 
includes it, as the greater includes the less. 
There is a profound truth in the remark of 
Mr. Judge, that " the body is only a small 


portion of the man, and that, when the 
body dies, the man himself is not yet 
really dead ; he has other organs, and 
other sorts of bodies, which have to die 
in their turn," 




I am asked what, in my opinion, are the 
strongest proofs and arguments in support 
of the belief in a future life. 

The first reason which I shall give for 
believing in a future life is that it is a hu- 
man instinct. The vast majority of man- 
kind have always believed in a future 
existence. So the Egyptians believed, as 
the monuments and papyri show, forty cen- 
turies ago. Such has been the faith of all 
the great religions, Buddhism not excepted. 
Such has been the belief of savage tribes, 
in all quarters of the globe. Such has also 
been the belief of sages and wise men, in 



all ages — like Socrates, Plato, Goethe, and 
Emerson. This belief has not come from 
argument, or reasoning, or observation, but 
from an inborn instinct. Now, all other 
instincts, in animals and men, have some 
reality corresponding to them. The bee 
has an instinct for collecting and storing 
honey, and honey is provided for its food, 
and wax for its cell. Other instincts 
in man, such as the social instinct, 
that of work, thought, progress, are also 
provided for. If man has an instinct 
looking forward to a future life, and there 
is no future life provided for him, this 
is a solitary exception to a rule otherwise 

A second argument for the continued ex- 
istence of the soul, when the body has been 
dissolved, is the absence of correlation 
between the two. While they are united 
here, the body is the organ of the soul, and 
they are mutually dependent, each affected 
by the condition of the other. But the soul 
does not decay with the body. After mid- 
dle life the body begins to grow weaker, but 


the soul still makes progress in knowledge, 
love, and power. In many cases the weak- 
est body is the home of the most advancing 
soul. So it was with Schiller, Kobert Hall, 
Dr. Channing, and many others. If the 
soul is simply the result of the body, this is 

Faith in God, as Father and Friend of 
every child, such a faith as Jesus taught, 
gives us the greatest assurance of immor- 
tality. If earthly parents cannot bear to 
lose their children, and mourn over them 
while life lasts, shall the Universal Father 
allow his children to drop out of existence 
as soon as they are able to know him and 
love him ? It is painful to us to cut down 
a tree which we have planted. Shall God 
cut down the whole human race, which he 
has created ? In proportion as we believe 
in God as Jesus taught, it becomes impossi- 
ble not to believe also in a future life. 
For God is not the God of the dead, but 
of the living; and those who believe in 
Jesus, and share his faith, lose all sense of 
death in that of a progressive life. The 


central belief of the Christian church con- 
cerning Jesus was in what we call his 
resurrection. This does not mean merely 
his return to an earthly life, as Lazarus 
returned, but, rather, an ascent into a 
higher life, in which he still had communion 
with his disciples. He had not gone down 
into an under world, but had gone up to 
God, and yet was still near to them. As 
he had gone up, they would also go up. 
This was " the power of his resurrection." 
It abolished death. It created an entirely 
new faith in immortal life. It has filled 
the world with the sense of a heaven close 
at hand. This faith in immortality, which 
poured forth from Judea and revived the 
dying heart of Roman thought, has its only 
reasonable explanation in this event. The 
rising of Jesus is still the source of comfort 
to thousands of broken hearts. As we look 
up, we see the heavens opened ; but when 
we look down, we see only the earth. 
Fully to believe in immortality we must 
live an immortal life. Then the eternal 
life abides in us. Then all things are ours, 



whether life or death, or things present or 
things to come. Or, as Dr. Channing once 
said, " Immortality begins here." 

Pastor of the Church of the Disciples (Congregational-Uni- 
tarian), Boston. 



It is impossible to give in a short letter 
any adequate presentation even of the out- 
line of the reasons which justify the belief 
in immortality. Having discussed this 
matter elsewhere somewhat in full, under 
the question, "Does Death End All?" I 
venture here only a few fragmentary 
hints : — 

First — It is no more wonderful that we 
should live again than that we should live 
at all. It is less wonderful that we should 
continue to live than that we have begun 
to live, and the most determined sceptic 
does know that we have begun. 

Second — Organic instincts are not cre- 
ated to be mocked. Nature makes no half- 
hinges. "There is," as Herbert Spencer 
says, "no vice in the constitution of 



tilings." But the deepest organic instincts 
of conscience have, in all nations and ages, 
predicted rewards and punishments after 
death. Shakespeare recognizes the fact 
that conscience makes cowards of us all by 
the thought of somewhat after death. 
This prophetic instinct in conscience is not 
the result of education, but of the original 
structure of human nature. It must be 
that it points to reality, unless conscience 
itself is an organized lie. There is no ex- 
ample in nature of an organic instinct 
without its correlate. Wherever we find a 
fin we find water to match it ; an eye, 
light to match it ; an ear, sound to match 
it ; a migrating instinct, a climate to 
match it. And so, from the existence of 
ineradicable, constitutional, irreversible in- 
stincts in normal human nature, leading 
us to anticipate rewards and punishments 
beyond the veil, we infer scientifically 
that death does not end all, for we cannot 
be rewarded and punished where we do not 
personally exist. 

Third — The human physical organism 


must be woven by some power not in mat- 
ter. Modern physiology now asserts this 
in the name of the most advanced biologi- 
cal science. Life, in the physical frame, 
is supposed to be an immaterial weaving 
principle, a growth force, existing previ- 
ously to the tissues it arranges. Organism 
implies an organizing force existing outside 
of it and before it and in entire indepen- 
dence of it. Eeasons that cannot here be 
stated justify us in identifying this force 
with the soul. It exists before the web it 
weaves, and so it may exist after that web 
is torn up, and outside of it and indepen- 
dent of it. Organism does not begin all, 
but is itself begun, and therefore the disso- 
lution of the organism cannot be proved to 
end all. The weaver that exists before 
the web he produces may exist after that 
web is destroyed, and, if God so will, may 
weave another organism, a spiritual body, 
adapted to the wants of a better state of 
existence. This reasoning applies to souls, 
which have individuality in the full sense 
of the word, or separate, personal responsi- 


bility, and not to mere instinct or animal 
life. But the reasons for this limitation I 
do not here enter upon. 

Fourth — The resurrection of Christ, as 
DeWette, the great German rationalist, 
himself admitted, can no more be brought 
into doubt by honest historic evidence 
than can the assassination of Cassar. The 
character of Christ forbids his possible 
classification with men. The external and 
the internal evidences of Christianity prove 
the divine authority of our Lord. His di- 
vine authority proves the doctrines he 
taught. Among these are immortality, in 
the full sense of the word ; the necessity of 
the new birth and of the atonement ; his 
own deity and the eternal judgment for 
deeds done in the body. It is the Scrip- 
tures which bring life and immortality into 
full light ; but mere reason, in the present 
state of science, is able to show that there 
is no ground for believing that death ends 

Author and lecturer, Boston. 



John Stuart Mill, in his famous 
" Essays/' arranges the arguments for 
human immortality into two classes : 
those independent of the question of the 
Creator, and those that are drawn from 
the assumed fact of his existence. Mill's 
own conclusion I have always considered 
the limit beyond which negative criticism 
could not, without assumption and dog- 
matism, go. That decision is that there is 
really no evidence either way. 

According to Butler, atheism does not 
settle the question against immortality. 
For he says, substantially, that, having 
existed in this world without a God, we 
may exist in another without him. That 
is good logic, undoubtedly. 


"the most keasonable view." 29 

Most people, however, would affirm that 
life, either in this world or in any other, 
would be a burden, not a blessing, were 
there no Almighty Father to guard and 
guide it into ideal satisfactions. So that, 
while atheism does not disprove immor- 
tality, a rational belief in God furnishes 
the proof in its favor. 

The starting-point for clear thought 
upon this subject has been well put in 
these words of Lotze, the German thinker : 
" That will last forever which, on account 
of its excellence and spirit, must be an 
abiding part of the order of the universe." 
Emerson takes the same ground ; only, he 
goes further, and applies his final law to 
the human soul, which Lotze declines 
to do: — 

"What is excellent, 
As God lives, is permanent ; 
Hearts are dust, hearts 1 loves remain ; 
Hearts' love shall need thee again." 

The considerations which lead me to 
believe in human immortality it is difficult 


to state as a series of proofs. They belong 
to and cohere with that whole view which 
I take of the world. To ask what proof 
there is of immortality — when one has 
denied or ignored God's existence, or what 
evidence there is for the same truth inde- 
pendent of Christianity — is, to me, simply 
a question of speculation, and not one of 
reality and life. I believe in the Christian 
interpretation of the universe. In my 
judgment, the most reasonable view that 
can be entertained, the view that explains 
most, leaves least unexplained, and pro- 
vides for complete explanations at last, is 
that the universe has a creator and sus- 
tainer, this world a ruler and Lord, the 
nations of the earth a governor and judge, 
and men individually everywhere a Heav- 
enly Father and Friend. My strongest 
proof of immortality, therefore, is that it 
is an essential part of this order of 
thought, that it is bound up with this 
interpretation of the world's life, that of 
necessity it belongs to this philosophy of 
the universe. The common arguments 

"the most reasonable view." 31 

from the character of God and the nature 
of the soul are only specifications of this 
general fundamental view. 

Pastor of the New Old South Church [Congregational- 
Trinitarian), Boston. 



I have been asked to give some of the 
best arguments and proofs of a future life. 
To do this with sufficient brevity, I must 
choose one or more among many argu- 
ments. I leave aside the proof from reve- 
lation. All who believe in Christ must be 
free from doubt on this subject, and I 
suppose it is for the benefit of those who 
have doubts that arguments and proofs 
are asked. Such persons desire arguments 
from reason, and I will confine myself to 
proofs of this kind. 

Experience and science do not find in 
nature any such thing as annihilation and 
extinction of being. Modes and forms 
resulting from, or dependent on, organic 
or mechanical arrangements of parts or 



elements are destroyed. But this destruc- 
tion is not an annihilation. It is an alter- 
ation or transformation. It is a resolution 
of the composite into its component parts 
or elements, which are recombined in new 
modes of existence. In bodies, the first 
elements, the something, whatever that 
may be supposed to be, which is the sub- 
ject of the action of force is indestructible. 
The elemental forces, also, are commonly 
said by scientists to be indestructible. So, 
even death is a change in the things which 
have had life, a dissolution, but not an 
annihilation. When a picture is burned, 
a statue is crushed into fragments, a violin 
is broken to pieces, there is no longer the 
representation of a landscape, the figure 
imitating a hero, or the musical instru- 
ment, in existence ; but all the stuff out of 
which they were made remains. What 
has perished was the resultant, simply and 
solely, of the artificial collocation of parts 
in a certain form. What had existence 
independently of the art of nature and of 
man is not deprived of it by the violent 


force which has undone the work done in 
and upon its substance. In organic be- 
ings, what is the result of the organiza- 
tion, what is inseparable from it, what has 
no action or existence of its own, not 
derived from or independent of the organic 
body, vanishes with the cessation of life. 
It is identified with the organic life, which 
merely vivifies the body and no more. 
But if the vital principle or soul, beside 
vivifying a body, has an independent ex- 
istence, life, and action of its own, if it 
have subsistence in itself, intrinsically, not 
derived from the body or dependent on it, 
if it be a distinct substance, the mere fact 
that it ceases to vivify a body does not 
deprive it of its own inherent subsistence, 
life, force, and action. Its condition is 
changed, but it cannot become extinct, 
except by a direct annihilation. If the 
first elements of bodies and forces are in- 
destructible, much more spiritual sub- 
stances and their forces, which are nobler 
and have much more being. 

The human soul is a substance, simple, 


indivisible, immaterial, spiritual, having 
subsistence and life in itself. This is 
proved by the nature of its highest opera- 
tions. The senses and sensitive cognition 
cannot go beyond the material phenomena 
of single bodies. The human intellect 
pierces through these to their immaterial 
ratios, and to ideas which are purely spir- 
itual. It apprehends universals, being, 
genus, substance, intelligence, necessary 
truths, the first and final cause. This is 
a super-organic, purely spiritual operation. 
From the nature of an action we deter- 
mine the essence of the agent. It follows, 
therefore, from the nature of human in- 
telligence, that the human intellect is 
spiritual in its essence. As such, by the 
force of the preceding argument, it is one 
of the indestructibles in nature, and the 
chief among all that exist on this earth. 


Editor Catholic World, New York. 



Of the doctrine or fact of immortality, 
the verdict of the understanding is, not 
logically proven. Faith in a future life 
arises, as a feeling or intuition, in certain 
states of mind, and those the loftiest we 
are ever in ; and it may be communicated 
by awakening in other minds, through a 
divine contagion, the same loving, worship- 
ful, and holy states. Many circumstances, 
indicating how intellectually and morally 
unfinished the human existence is here be- 
low, may stir and lift the soul to such re- 
ligious and Christ-like rapture as to resolve 
all our doubts. But eternal life is some- 
thing we must be conscious of, and cannot 
argumentatively demonstrate. That great 
French scholar, Ernest Renan, says one evi- 



dence for the truth of a doctrine may be 
found in the nobility of behavior for which 
it inspires. The idea that man is an 
ephemeron does not kindle to great deeds 
or strengthen to any sublime endeavor. It 
was long ago said by Cicero of the Epi- 
curean creed that it was to be utterly re- 
jected because it led to nothing worthy or 

Pastor of the West Church (Congregational) , Boston. 



Passing altogether mere suggestions, 
symbols, and rhetorical illustrations, which 
are in no sense proofs, I mention four argu- 
ments, which, fairly dealt with, may be 
deemed conclusive : — 

1. The physicist, so often unbelieving, 
ought, on his own ground, to cherish faith 
in immortality. The science of statics and 
dynamics convinces him that nothing is or 
can be lost. However matter or force of 
any kind may change its form, it is in no 
case destroyed. Now, there is such a thing 
as intellectual and moral force, as real as 
and no more impalpable than are light, 
heat, and motion. With this soul force we 
are as well acquainted as with any of the 
more subtle agencies in nature. If their 


persistence is assured under all possible 
transformations, why is not the persistence 
of this soul force assured ? This energy is 
not measured by the physical energy of its 
possessor. The athlete is not the greater 
man intellectually and morally, but often 
the reverse. Our soul force does not grow, 
mature, and decay pari passu with our 
bodily energy, but often increases while 
the body decays. If this continues, why 
should that cease ? If earth abides, why 
should heaven perish ? The physicist, 
standing on his own ground, should be a 

2. In like manner, the psychologist dwells 
in the midst of facts that compel faith in 
immortality. The constitution of the hu- 
man soul contains absolute and universal 
spontaneities, known as necessary ideas. 
They are found in all ages, races, and 
conditions of men ; ideas that are never 
learned and can never be forgotten ; ideas 
that cannot be excluded from the mind ; 
they spring up on occasion everywhere and 
in all men. Such are the ideas of cause 


and effect, time when and place where 
events occur, the being of God, and immor- 
tality. The universal and necessary char- 
acter of these ideas makes the very consti- 
tution of man affirm their objective reality. 
Cause and effect are realities. Time and 
space are realities. God and immortality 
are realities. All are alike affirmed in con- 
sciousness. Just as we rely on the divine 
testimony given through our senses, so we 
should rely on the divine testimony given 
through the necessary action of our intel- 
lectual and moral natures. The action of 
the senses demonstrates the realities of the 
external world. The action of the soul 
demonstrates in consciousness the reality of 
God and immortality. 

By both these methods, any antecedent 
improbability relative to the truth of im- 
mortality is swept away, and its probabil- 
ity, not to say certainty, is established. 

3. But to the masses of men, who are 
neither physicists, on the one hand, nor 
psychologists, on the other, the proofs from 
the Bible are far more satisfactory. The 


wonder-working power of the Master was 
the " seal of his Messiahship," and attested 
his claim to the credence of mankind, as 
the signatures of the highest officers of our 
government attest the powers of our min- 
isters plenipotentiary to foreign courts. 
So the common people interpreted them ; 
so Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews, 
regarded them ; so Jesus himself urged 
them upon the disciples of John the Bap- 
tist. Now, Christ undeniably taught a life 
hereafter. He interprets the declaration to 
Moses, " I am the God of Abraham," etc., 
as meaning that, since " God is not a God 
of the dead, but of the living," Abraham 
lives. He said, too, " I am the resurrec- 
tion and the life ; " " Destroy this temple, 
and in three days I will build it again." 
He demonstrated this doctrine by the resur- 
rection of Lazarus, of the son of the widow 
of Nain, and by his own after the crucifix- 
ion on Calvary. 

Paul taught the doctrine with equal em- 
phasis. See chapter 15 of the first letter, 
and chapter 5 of the second letter, to the 


Corinthians. Considering his relation to 
the death of Stephen, the manner of his 
conversion, and his subsequent history, his 
testimony has great power. 

4. A final consideration, entitled to no 
little weight, is the need of faith in a life 
hereafter to make this life tolerable. This 
hope is a necessity, whether one's thought 
centres on ourselves or our friends. Such 
a hope is not to be compared to the whim- 
sical desires of men born of their fashions, 
or their appetites, or their pride ; but it 
takes hold of the deepest and holiest pow- 
ers within us. If future life be not a 
reality, it follows that the most tremendous 
of untruths is essential to the present well- 
being of every human soul. Such a propo- 
sition is simply incredible. 

Pastor Second Universallst Church, Boston. 



Peoofs of immortality : — 

1. The persistent and universal belief in 
a hereafter. 

2. The consciousness that we are some- 
thing somehow different and other than 
the body which we inhabit and which must 

3. The continuity of our personality. 
The body continually changes. We remain 
— the argument is strong that we shall 
still remain when at last the body alto- 
gether ceases. 

4. The fact that man does not here 
reach, manifestly, the full development of 
his powers. 

5. The ethical reason. The balances do 
not swing evenly here. They must some- 



where, or all our sense of right and wrong 
is a deception. 

6. The great reason is the resurrection 
of the Lord Jesus. That is the impregna- 
ble reason. 

Pastor of the Memorial Baptist Church, Philadelphia. 



I regret to say that I find it impossible 
to write at any length in answer to- the 
question you propose. If a bare statement 
could in any way meet your object, I would 
simply observe : — 

1. That Catholics, like all Christians, 
believe in an after-life, principally because 
such is the clear, emphatic, reiterated 
teaching of our Lord and his apostles all 
through the New Testament, and because 
it has been the universal and constant be- 
lief of all Christian ages. 

2. That, even outside the teachings of 
their faith, they are led to the same convic- 
tion, and confirmed in it, by the intuitions 
of their moral sense, by the cravings of 
their whole spiritual nature ; more still, by 
their belief in a personal God, supremely 



just and wise, a belief with which that of a 
future existence has been invariably bound 
up in the minds of men ; that they are 
confirmed in it by their failing to see how, 
without it, society could develop harmoni- 
ously, progress, or even permanently hold 
together. In a word, recognizing the real 
though very unequal value of the reasons 
given to the world in support of that doc- 
trine, from Plato down to Descartes, Fene- 
lon, and McCosh, they accept the teaching 
of the Gospel as that of reason itself. 

These grounds are common to all Chris- 
tians, yet Catholics, as a rule, realize more 
fully than most others the all-important 
fact of a future existence. This comes 
from the greater fulness of Catholic teach- 
ing, the greater firmness of Catholic faith, 
and from various other reasons, on which, 
I regret, I have not time to enter. 

President of St. John's Seminary (Catholic), Brighton, 




In response to your question, " What are 
the strongest proofs and arguments in sup- 
port of the belief in a life hereafter ? " 
permit me to express myself as follows : — 

Belief is independent of proof. Indepen- 
dence of proof has ever been one of the 
essentials of belief. As soon as the iden- 
tity of sensation with reality is established, 
— that is, as soon as the truth of a thing 
is proven, — we cease to believe. Certainty 
or proof destroys and does not support 
belief. The belief in a life hereafter stands, 
therefore, and must stand, without the sup- 
port of proof. If an existence of life after 
death could be proven, we would no longer 
believe it — it would be certainty. 

There are no proofs of a life hereafter, 
and, therefore, we cling to the belief. Past 



generations knew as little about it as does 
the present, and I doubt whether the dark 
veil will ever be lifted. Biblical quotations 
in support of such a belief are no proofs ; 
they prove not more, if they prove any- 
thing, than that people have yearned for a 
future existence in the past as they do to- 
day, and that we have no conception of 
non-existence. All proofs drawn from bibli- 
cal sources are far-fetched, and to the un- 
biassed reader of the Old Testament it 
becomes plain as sunlight that its writers 
imagined the hereafter far different than 
we do, and that their explanations turned 
rather around resurrection than around a 
spiritual kind of existence after death. 

Neither does science afford us any proofs. 
Permit me, therefore, to drop the first part 
of your question, and to turn to the second 

Arguments in support of a belief in a life 
hereafter are plentiful. Every philosophi- 
cal school has produced some. The best 
arguments which I have ever read in sup- 
port of the belief in immortality are con- 


tained in Mendelssohn's " Phgedon," and all 
arguments which I could bring forth would 
be a repetition of those so masterly eluci- 
dated by the great philosopher. If I am, 
however, to add an argument, I would only 
speak of that which supports my belief in 
a life hereafter, and which is strong enough 
to drive from me individually the natural 
fear and dread of non-existence. I believe 
that not only is man, but every creature, a 
dual being : if I may properly use the ex- 
pression, mind chained to matter, or matter 
saturated with mind. What their true re- 
lations are to each other, I can as little tell 
as anybody else. Nobody has so far as yet 
demonstrated it beyond doubt where the 
seat of mind is, or by what ties it is held 
to matter. 

In the glance of the eye, however, as well 
as in many other ways, we become con- 
scious of the existence of a something 
which not only gives vitality to matter, 
but which is its directing and governing 
force. We become conscious of it that our 
individuality is not made up by our body 


merely, but by something else, for which 
we shall ever fail to find the right expres- 
sion. We may as well call it mind or soul 
or spirit, though none of these names will 
cover it. Observation has taught us that 
matter is indestructible; that death is 
merely a change of form in so far as mat- 
ter is concerned. Why, then, should the 
still finer part of our being be subject to 
annihilation ? Why should mind not be as 
indestructible as matter ? Why should, 
furthermore, that indestructible love for 
existence and that insuppressible fear of 
non-existence be so strongly intertwined 
with all our thoughts and actions, if there 
was not some reality behind it ? No, our 
hopes cannot be disappointed ; mind is as 
indestructible at death as is matter, and 
that which thinks, feels, and wills in me 
will remain, must remain, as do the ele- 
ments of which my body is composed. So 
far, but not farther, will arguments carry 

To believe in immortality is one thing, 
and to describe it is quite another. In 


what form this future existence will mani- 
fest itself to our consciousness, or whether 
our individuality will be preserved, who 
can tell ? Here we touch the realms of 
imagination, and reason must fold up its 

The longevity, if not the immortality, of 
thoughts and actions within humanity may 
also be called a hereafter; but your ques- 
tion did not allude to such a life after 
death. I refrain, therefore, from touching 
it. Considering the possibility and proba- 
bility, or, let me even say, certainty, of a 
life hereafter, we ought not to lose sight of 
the life heretofore. If there is a here- 
after, logically there must have been a life 
heretofore. Our body contains surely ma- 
terial which has been previously employed 
in forming the substance of some being ; is 
that which is possible in regard to matter 
impossible in regard to mind ? We know 
nothing of a previous life, it is true, and 
we care little about it, because it is the 
future and not the past which stirs our 
hopes and fears, but is it not as probable 


that we shall drink from the waters of the 
river Lethe before entering the hereafter, 
and become thus unconscious of the condi- 
tions in which we have lived here ? 


Rabbi Temple Adath Israel (Reformed Jewish Church), 

* Boston. 



If we bear in mind that the rationality 
and liberty of man enable him to confirm 
whatever he will, and that men's natural 
faculties are more apt to deny than affirm 
the truth of phenomena which lie outside 
and above them, we shall not expect impos- 
sible results of any effort to find " proofs " 
of the belief in a life hereafter. Spiritism 
itself, with all its " tests/' is unable to com- 
pel a belief in immortality, or secure its 
"communications" and " materializations" 
from being regarded with incredulity by 
many. " If they hear not Moses and the 
prophets, neither will they be persuaded 
though one rose from the dead." According 
to this principle, faith in the soul's immor- 
tality cannot be made dependent upon 
merely sensuous evidence. And when, as 



has so often been done, we appeal to science 
as to some authorized judge, we are carry- 
ing the problem where it does not belong ; 
trying to bring the soul within focal dis- 
tance of lenses which were never fashioned 
to discern it ; and clamoring for a kind of 
evidence which, in the very nature of the 
case, is an injpossibility, or, if possible, 
would be fatal to our hopes. For, evidently, 
if science could discern and handle spirit, 
she would not thereby prove the soul's im- 
mortality, but, quite the contrary, that 
what we have called " spirit" is, after all, 
only a refined form of matter, which must 
prove perishable in the end. The soul, if it 
exist at all, is by nature and by environ- 
ment spiritual. To know certainly of its 
existence, therefore, we must appeal to some 
spiritual authority or witness, namely, reve- 
lation, which affirms our immortality as a 
fact supersensibly made known to the soul 
itself, attested by yearnings which are as 
prophets' voices, and by holy anticipations 
which are the fore-gleams of a heavenly 


But, the fact of immortality being once 
revealed, the evidences of its truthfulness 
become abundant. In the small amount of 
space at command, these can be but little 
more than stated. 

1. Nature, in every part of her wide 
domain, reveals evidences of design, and in 
so far of the existence of a creative mind 
or being, to whom man is spiritually united. 
She also exhibits processes which afford 
many resemblances to a resurrection — such 
as the resurrection of the moth from the 
grave of the chrysalis, the return of fresh- 
ness and beauty in spring after the frosts 
of winter. 

2. The traditions of universal belief in a 
resurrection point to its reality. What all 
men believe, and continue to believe from 
age to age, is certainly not to be cast lightly 

3. Accompanying this universal belief 
are irrepressible longings for a life beyond 
the grave. Is it likely that a desire so 
deep-seated is incapable of fulfilment ? All 
other longings, bodily and mental, such as 


food, strength, intelligence, love, find means 
by which they may be more or less grati- 
fied. Does humanity long for eternal life 
in vain ? 

4. The nature of man is in itself an indi- 
cation of a higher world, in which that 
nature can attain its full development. He 
has planes and degrees of thought and 
affection which are s?^er-natural, and which 
require a supernatural world for their best 
expression. It is in his power to look clown 
upon lower grades of thought and feeling 
in himself ; to study them — a fact which 
demonstrates the existence of mental facul- 
ties which lie wholly above the things which 
are of time and space. 

5. Many of his experiences, also, are of 
a distinctly spiritual character. There are 
moments in the life of every noble man 
when he feels the presence of God. And 
he feels it by the flowing-in of holy influ- 
ences, which bring a peace that passeth all 
understanding. When a man puts away 
some evil as sin, when he denies himself for 
the sake of another, there comes to him a 


sense of peace and interior blessedness which 
the world cannot give, and which is a testi- 
mony that he enjoys communion with God, 
which is life eternal. 

6. From time to time in the world's his- 
tory, there have been well authenticated 
cases of intromission into the spiritual 
world. Our common faith is based on a reve- 
lation which contains many such instances. 
Both the Old and the New Testaments fre- 
quently reveal to us the existence of spirits 
and angels. Those who are convinced of 
the truthfulness of the teachings made 
known through Swedenborg regard his 
experiences as not less wonderful and in 
accordance with the divine purpose than 
those granted to John the Revelator, Paul, 
and others. 

7. But the supreme fact of all is the res- 
urrection of the Saviour of mankind. The 
risen Christ is the fact on which the church 
is built. Without it there could have been 
no church. It is the truth which more 
than any other the apostles and early fol- 
lowers boldly preached, and which no form 


of persecution could crush. He whose life 
was one of self-sacrifice ; who endured scorn 
and persecution in silence ; who laid down 
his life without a murmur, telling his fol- 
lowers that he would rise again, — all this, 
which, even now, shines so beautiful and 
clear, suddenly gives way if the resurrection 
be not a fact. Accepted as a fact, no man 
need doubt the truth that " God is not a 
God of the dead, but of the living," nor 
fear to enter the Valley of the Shadow of 
Death under the guidance of Him who is 
"the Resurrection and the Life." 

^^XOOuuvAa » ^>Wju *AcT 

Pastor of the Boxbury Church of the New Jerusalem 




I consider the expectation of deathless- 
ness an innate idea. Man has never been 
found without it. It is, therefore, an es- 
sential part of things that are. The future 
is as real as the present or the past. In 
fact, there is no " future," nor " present," 
nor "past." These are but names of condi- 
tions. Man simply is alive and ever alive. 
" The hereafter " is a convenient name 
only. Such universal assent of all men, 
in all eras and places, makes "life here- 
after " as certain as the universal assent of 
the present consciousness that we are 
makes existence now a certainty. The 
Bible corroborates this essential idea, illus- 


trates it, and teaches us the methods of 
that life. 

Man's moral sense is admitted to be 
the most exalted fact in his being ; and 
the moral sense demands another world in 
which the wrongs of this are to be righted 
— the arc to be made a circle. The Bible 
is true to us because it promises this. 

Man's reason demands the satisfaction 
of a conclusion of his life's logic ; here we 
get but the two premises. 

Man's affections demand the same. 
When conscience, reason, and love are 
content to end at the grave, man is no 
longer of sound mind. That is insanity — 
one form of it. 

Faith is but the assertion of these posi- 
tions, or, as the Scriptures say, " the sub- 
stance of things hoped for." Faith is life. 
Despair is death. Faith is natural. De- 
spair is unnatural, or disease, 0¥, as I said, 

Jesus Christ's career, taken all in all, 
is a photograph of humanity. He was 
born, suffered, worked, enjoyed, died, and 


rose again. He " ever liveth." He be- 
comes the argument incarnate, or made 

Pastor of the Union Temple Baptist Church, Boston. 



As to " proofs " of a future life, I feel a 
difficulty in answering your question. It 
seems to me that a saying of Dr. Marti- 
neau, which I can only quote from mem- 
ory, goes to the root of that matter, viz., 
that " man does not believe in immortality 
because he has ever proved it, but he is 
ever trying to prove it because he cannot 
help believing it." Nature does not prove 
it, but originates it, and originates it in 
such universal connection with man's up- 
ward progress as assures us that it is not 
any " twist " or abnormal product in the 
growth of humanity, but a part of the 
great orderly development of our race, and 
therefore reliable. 

I think man's whole intellectual and 
affectional capacities point toward a larger 



scope than any afforded by the present 
life : but most imperatively of all I find 
this in the consideration of man's moral 
nature. This impels men to endeavors 
which, on earth, are never satisfied, never 
reach any conclusion ; which, the nobler 
they are, only the more imperfect are 
they in any earthly attainment of them. 
It sets man striving onward in ways in 
which, the further he goes, the more he 
feels that here he is only at the beginning 
of things. The most meagre sense of justice 
and right makes us conscious that man's 
earthly life is, morally regarded, only a 
fragment. Justice does not get accom- 
plished. Conscience impels us to believe 
in certain moral sequences, but those se- 
quences are seldom completed here. It is 
not that a future life is needed for com- 
pensation, but for the working-out of that 
moral completeness which the present sel- 
dom brings. 

I think that thus nature, especially 
where it comes to its highest and clearest 
meaning in man, is full of suggestions of 


immortality ; but, after all, that which 
caps and crowns all and lifts it into a 
quiet certainty is the thought and teach- 
ing of Christ. The fact is — and it is a 
very important point, which I do not think 
has been sufficiently noticed — that the 
real effect of the scientific progress of our 
time has been to make, not Christ only, 
but all the great religious leaders of the 
world, of more importance now than 
ever, not less. Because a while ago many 
imagined that science was going to supply 
the exact truth in moral and religious 
things as in material things. But they 
find it cannot. It can tell us about sub- 
stances and forces, though even before it 
has got half-way through these it is among 
things which elude its grasp and are as 
impalpable as soul or God. But when we 
go to science to ask about right and kind- 
ness, and love and reverence, it is abso- 
lutely powerless. It cannot deny that 
these are, but simply can tell us nothing 
about them. In the whole interpretation 
of this higher life, science cannot help us, 


and admits that it cannot. And so we are 
thrown back with a new interest upon the 
developments of that side of our being, 
upon the great masters of spiritual life, 
and most of all on Christ. In him I feel 
that we have the most perfect expression 
of that divine meaning which is embodied 
in the universe. And so in this matter of 
the life to come, when I have thought and 
thought, and sometimes become dazed with 
thinking, I turn to Christ. I see how his 
teachings are alive with this feeling of 
immortality, how he could never think of 
death except as a falling asleep or as going 
to the Father. There I finally rest. Hu- 
manity, at its highest, where it seems 
consciously to touch the divine, utters the 
same thought which speaks in the dumb 
instincts of human nature at its lowest — 
that this life is not all, that man is to live 

Pastor of the Arlington Street Church {Congregational- 
Unitarian), Boston. 



The request for the strongest argu- 
ments in support of the belief in a future 
life cannot be satisfactorily answered in a 
few sentences, and, while I feel that I can 
hardly say anything new upon the subject, 
I am not willing to let such a request as 
this pass without doing my best by way of 
a response. Why do I believe in man's 
deathlessness ? 

I. In the first place, then, because of the 
resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a his- 
toric fact, to the clear proof of which it is 
now impossible to add anything, that a 
man has passed through the experience 
called death with life continuous and un- 
impaired. That death did not bring to an 

66 • 


end the separate individual existence of the 
man Jesus of Nazareth, but only liberated 
that life into larger conditions, the world- 
filling fact of Christianity is to-day the 
clear evidence. For Christianity has grown, 
not out of the dead and buried Christ, but 
out of the dead and buried and risen Christ. 
" Jesus and the Resurrection" was the in- 
scription upon the banner carried by the 
first apostles of the Christian church. That 
fact was the one sign by which they con- 
quered ; that the man Jesus, in dying, had 
simply changed the mode of his existence, 
and that he had made this infallibly cer- 
tain by his repeated reappearances, was the 
fact which they everywhere preached, and 
in attestation of which they were willing 
to peril their own mortal lives — yea, glad, 
if need were, to lay them down under what- 
ever form of torture, assured that they 
could not be extinguished, but would rise 
up triumphant into the glorious conditions 
of his life. I feel downward toward the 
roots of this great world-filling plant, and 
I find there, as the sole spring and only ex- 


planation of its existence, not a doctrine, 
not a theory, not a system of theology or 
philosophy, but a fact, — the fact of one 
life that was unextinguished by what men 
call death, — and I say with the early apos- 
tles : " If Christ be risen from the dead, 
how say some among you that there is no 
resurrection of the dead ? " 

II. I turn next to Christ's representation 
of the relations existing between God and 
man. What Christ taught us of the nature 
of God and of his relations to man forbids 
us to believe that man goes out of existence 
at death — unless, indeed, we can adopt 
the self-contradictory supposition that God 
himself may cease to exist. Christ came 
proclaiming a gospel which men said then, 
and still are saying, is too good to be true. 
He came here teaching a doctrine concern- 
ing God which was marvellously in ad- 
vance of all that had been held by the 
wisest and best of men; making full and 
constant and emphatic declaration of his 
paternal relation to the souls of men, and 
of his fatherly affection for them. This 


was the burden of his message, the Gospel 
— the good news of God — which man, as 
lost, needed to know, and to receive which 
filially was repentance, rebirth, and salva- 
tion. He makes it the first condition of 
prayer that men shall recognize the rela- 
tionship. He bids men rely with utter 
confidence upon God's paternal forecast. 
He commands them to be perfect, because 
it becomes children to be in moral resem- 
blance to their father. In every way he 
displays this fact, and urges it home : that 
with God is the real paternity of human 
souls, of which the tenderest and most 
gracious fatherhood of earth is but a reflec- 
tion. How does it bear on this question of 
immortality? Let us take our Lord's own 
method of appealing to life : " What man 
of you, being a father, if his son ask bread, 
will he give him a stone ? " What man of 
you, being a father, having a child that is 
obedient and dutiful, trustful and compan- 
ionable, whose infancy you have tenderly 
nursed, and whose maturing years are re- 
paying you a thousand-fold for all your 


anxious thought, would be willing to have 
that life — the offspring of your own life 
— end in utter extinction, supposing that 
you yourself were immortal ? Why, you 
cannot contemplate the separation of a 
little while without a great sinking at your 
heart. How anxiously you guard against 
every fatal probability ! How even the 
slightest cause for fear invades your slum- 
ber and holds your eyes waking ! No, no ! 
You cannot bear that that life should even 
seem to come to pause in death. With all the 
tender consolations of your Christian faith, 
with all the promises of hope, your parental 
affection shudders and shrinks, and abso- 
lutely refuses, until it is compelled, to con- 
template even the apparent cessation of 
life. But if the child be undutiful, disobe- 
dient, ungrateful, rebellious, does that alter 
the matter ? No, only to make you all the 
more unwilling. Now, if Christ meant 
what he said, what must we believe con- 
cerning the intensity of that passion which 
burns at the paternal heart of God ! And 
for every spirit that he has brought into 


being. No such thing as extinction is pos- 
sible for the soul of man. 

III. My third point is the fact that man 
at his highest and best has the clear convic- 
tion of his own immortality. As one has 
said : " It would seem that the highest and 
holiest soul carries with it, like an atmos- 
phere, a perfect serenity, a sense of present 
eternity, a presage of immortality." That 
sense is the perpetual sunlight which 
crowns the higher moral summits. We 
find the higher souls, and our own souls in 
their higher experiences, never stopping to 
question about it. It does not occur to 
them to doubt. It is a quiet, all-day-long 
assumption, to which life chords itself. 
The man who lives a grave-digger's life 
among mortalities easily comes to question 
whether there be anything that is not mor- 
tal. Our doubts of unending life grow out 
of our earthiness. Our souls attach them- 
selves to things, and become scented with 
their decay. Man invests himself in death 
and then feels that he is dying. Let him, 
in like manner, invest himself in life, and 


he becomes clearly conscious that he cannot 
die. The sense of immortality is the blos- 
som of the spiritual nature., with which 
that nature expands when it has pushed up 
through the dirt. Our Saviour clearly inti- 
mated this when he said : " Whosoever be- 
lieveth hath eternal life." That blessed- 
ness is the coronation of the soul's highest 
mood and endeavor — faith ; which is the 
spirit's walk and conversation among the 
things that are not measured by feet and 
inches nor by days and hours, which are 
not to be described under any material 
terms, and are, therefore, not subject to 
material change or law. Love, purity, pa- 
tience, reverence, lowliness before God, 
peace, righteousness — the things which 
make the climate and atmosphere of eter- 
nity. I am well aware that this can be no 
proof, and can hardly be called an argu- 
ment for any who stand themselves out- 
side of this experience. As Dr. Bushnell 
says : " The faith of immortality depends 
on a sense of it begotten, not in an argu- 
ment for it concluded.' ' In other words, 


let any man for himself once lay hold upon 
the best things, and he will find his intui- 
tions brighten and grow clear. " Born from 
above/' he will " see the kingdom of God." 
These, I think, are the best reasons for 
believing in man's deathlessness, but there 
are a multitude of others. The argument 
is not simple, but composite — like a cable 
which is braided of many strands, which 
again are twisted from innumerable fibres. 
You can unbraid, untwist them, but it is a 
long process. Together they make a band 
which the pertinacious confidence of man- 
kind declares has never been broken. Men 
will still hold by it, I think, no matter how 
many improbabilities are piled upon it to 
try its tension. There is the fact of man's 
universal eagerness to know — man's uni- 
versal truth-hunger., which no earthly 
acquisition can satisfy — his partial vision 
here, which needs some unknown quantity 
to balance and complete it — the conviction 
that somewhere absolute truth must be 
awaiting his approach, and that he must 
come to it. He has wings that are eager 


for flight, made for flight ; eyes that long 
for fuller vision, made for fuller vision. 
There must be some atmosphere in which 
these wings shall play, some light in which 
these eyes shall see, or God has made our 
human souls in vain, and the gift of con- 
scious being is to every soul an act of 
mighty injustice. These things are pro- 
phetic. They are small matters now, but 
they are small just as are the folded buds 
along the winter's bough. They hold the 
slumbering glories of an immortal summer. 
There must be — and it is not profane to 
say it — there must be some self- vindica- 
tion of God's moral character — some up- 
heaving, some theodicy — which is beyond 
any possible construction here. The vast 
majority of the human race, — God's chil- 
dren, spirits begotten of his spirit, — myri- 
ads on myriads, through ages and millen- 
niums, have lived in hunger of body, of 
mind, of heart and soul, and have died 
questioning and unsatisfied. There must 
be another chapter to the history, or God 
there is none. 


But 5 away from all this, we turn with 
inexpressible relief, with perfect satisfac- 
tion, to Him who hath brought life and im- 
mortality to light. Rush lights thrust into 
a grave do not dispel much of its gloom. 
In fact, it is not the grave that needs the 
illumination, but the inmost soul of man. 
Man carries his light in his darkness within 
himself ; the grave is just as bright as the 
fireside for the soul which is kindled within 
with the love of God, of Christ, of truth 
and purity and righteousness. " In thy 
light shall we see light." " Because thou 
livest, we shall live also." 


Pastor of the Mt. Vernon Church (Congregational-Trinita- 
rian), Boston. 



1. The intense longing for immortality 
which I find in my own being is an argu- 
ment for continued existence. It seems 
satanic that the hunger and thirst of the 
body should be met, the cravings of the in- 
tellect be in a measure satisfied, and the 
longings of the soul be revoked. The more 
brutal a man becomes, the less real does 
the hope become. The more spiritual, the 
more real. I count it an argument in favor 
of immortality that the highest types of 
character have believed it most firmly, and 
the realization seems to be proportioned by 
spiritual growth. 

2. I accept Jesus Christ as a historical 
character, a specialist, if you will, in spirit- 
ual things. His life and resurrection are 
an argument in favor of immortality. His 
interpretations of the Old Testament and 



teachings in the New certainly confirm the 
hope of immortality. To me, the teach- 
ings of Christ are the strongest proof of 

3. I accept Paul as a historical character, 
his epistles as authentic and genuine. The 
relations existing between the soul of man 
and the spirit of God, as set forth by Paul, 
confirm the longing of the soul and the 
teachings of the Christ. 

The change wrought in a man's life 
when the " works of the flesh" give way 
to " the fruit of the spirit " argues spiritual 
life beyond the grave. Trusting my own 
soul, accepting the truth as Christ taught 
it, and the truth as Paul set it forth, I be- 
lieve in the immortality of my soul. 

I believe that Christ and Paul both 
taught that the soul of a man rejecting 
the truth is immortal also, though that 
rejection reach the point of denying Christ's 
authority and God's existence. 

Pastor of the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, Boston. 



You ask what are the strongest proofs 
and arguments in support of the belief in 
a life hereafter. I have only time to answer 
briefly : — 

1. The common consent of all mankind, 
in every age and land, ancient as well as 
modern, pagan as well as Christian. Call 
this an intuition, or what you please, it is 
an inwrought and ineradicable conviction, 
which as conclusively points to an objec- 
tive reality as the perturbations of Uranus 
pointed to Neptune, " lying out there in 
the cold." 

2. All the arguments that go to prove 
the existence of God. For if there be a 
God, endowed with such attributes as are 
essential to our very conception of his 
character, then there arises an invincible 



presumption, not to say a moral necessity, 
for him to provide a future state for the 
rectification of the inequalities and injus- 
tices of the present state. If there be a 
God, and a God of truth and justice, then 
there must be a future state. With a man 
who is an atheist, if, indeed, there be such 
a man, of which I have the gravest doubts, 
I would have no contention, for such a 
man, who, in the midst of such a universe, 
can turn away from it all, and say in his 
heart, " There is no God," is simply a poor 
fool, upon whom all argument would be 

3. All the arguments that go to prove 
the truth of the Bible. For, if there be 
anything upon which the Bible is unmis- 
takably explicit, it is in its answer to the 
question before us. These arguments for 
the truth of the Bible have been so fre- 
quently and fully formulated as to make 
an attempted recapitulation of them un- 
necessary here. For their proper presenta- 
tion!, one would want a volume rather than 
a quarter of a column. 


Suffice it to say that, if the Bible could 
be shown to be false, the proofs of a life 
hereafter drawn from the constitution of 
our nature and the constitution of the uni- 
verse would still remain. But if the Bible 
can be shown to be true, as it can be by a 
resistless array of arguments, then a life 
hereafter is beyond all question. 

A thousand lines of subtle metaphysical 
argument might be presented and prose- 
cuted to prove the probability of a future 
state. I do not concern myself with them, 
nor do they commend themselves to com- 
mon minds, nor are they quite conclusive 
to the minds of those who urge them. 

It seems to me to be better to rest our 
conclusions upon "bedrock" rather than to 
allow our thoughts to be confused by doubt- 
ful speculations ; and if such lines of argu- 
ment as I have indicated be not bedrock, 
then I know not where to find it in the 
universe of God. 

Pastor First Baptist Churchy Chicago. 



My health and the pressure of official 
duties compel me to write briefly. 

1. Man is a complex being, of body and 
soul. This is proved by self -consciousness. 
All human responsibility recognizes the will 
of the soul, which directs the deeds of the 

2. Our personality, which is unlike any 
other being who has lived, or will live, has, 
in the gift of memory and the preservation 
of our identity under all changes of body 
and soul, the prophecy of a future life. 

3. The ethical side of our nature, in its 
conception of right and wrong, which is 
common to all men, would be only prudence 
or imprudence if there is no immortality. 

4. True philosophy forbids the thought 



that this identity which is seen in man's in- 
tellectual and spiritual life is ended at 
death. We can conceive of no waste so 
frightful as the destruction of man's being, 
and this idea is in violation of all the laws 
of the universe. 

5. The universality of the belief in a 
future life is a strong proof of the fact. 

6. We cannot conceive of design without 
a designer, of creation without a creator, of 
law without a lawgiver. It impugns the 
wisdom of God to suppose that a being 
which he has endowed with such marvel- 
lous powers is created to perish. 

7. If God, who has filled the universe 
with his bounty, can feel pity for men who 
sin and suffer, he must give to them the rev- 
elation of his will. This revelation, which 
is complete in a Saviour, is the outcome of 
the possibility that God can love. 

8. Life and immortality are made certain 
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No 
fact of history can bring more indubitable 

9. Friends and foes have through eigh- 


teen hundred years weighed and sifted evi- 
dence, and the Gospels have vindicated their 
authenticity and genuineness. 

10. The witnesses of Christ's resurrec- 
tion were competent and credible, and they 
sealed their testimony with their blood. In 
an open letter, which all scholars admit, 
St. Paul wrote within forty years after the 
crucifixion. He says there were then living 
over two hundred and fifty men who had 
seen Jesus Christ after he arose from the 

11. Since the world began, no man has 
ever heard of a body of men conspiring to 
tell a falsehood when every man of that 
company knew that that falsehood would 
overwhelm him in ruin. - > 

12. The answer made by the chief priests 
to this witness of the apostles confirms the 
truth of the resurrection. There never 
were men who had so much at stake as 
these priests. If on the fourth day they 
could show the body of Jesus, they were 
vindicated forever, and Jesus would stand 
out through all the centuries as a Jewish 


enthusiast and impostor. They had every- 
thing in their favor. He was dead. His 
grave stood solitary and alone. It was 
sealed with the Roman seal and guarded by 
the veteran soldiers of the world, with the 
light of an eastern sun by day and the 
light of a paschal moon by night. The 
third day the grave was empty. The ex- 
planation of the chief priests, the moment 
it was uttered, was indelibly stamped as 
falsehood. They said that within three 
days the virgin mother and the men and 
women whose hearts were wrung with an- 
guish conspired together to take the body 
of the one they loved, out of its honored 
resting-place in a nobleman's tomb, and 
carry it to a nameless potter s field. 

13. Thousands of the men who con- 
sented to the death of Jesus Christ were so 
convinced of the truth of his resurrection 
that they gave up all that men hold dear, 
and life itself, to become the followers of 
the risen Saviour. 

14. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has 
brought life and immortality to light. It 


fulfils the hopes and aspirations of men. 
It preserves all that is dearest in human 
affections. It gives purpose and dignity to 
life. Different as men are in intellectual 
gifts, there is one side of our nature which 
is the same in the humblest child of toil as 
in the greatest scholar. They all sin and 
suffer, and the Christian revelation of eter- 
nal life through a risen Saviour is the best 
news this world has ever heard. 

15. Atheism answers no questions, ful- 
fils no hopes. It puts out our eyes and 
leaves us blind and in the dark. Man can- 
not protect his social relations without ac- 
countability to an unseen power. No na- 
tion has survived the loss of its religion. 
The necessity of an eternal law of morals, 
outside of man's changing will, is inextri- 
cably bound up with the truth of immor- 

16. There are clouds which linger and 
which no human eye can pierce, else there 
were no room for that loving, loyal faith 
which brings out all that is gentlest, purest, 
and noblest in human character. The 


Christian faith rests on eternal truths. 
We know in whom we believe. We are 
not going to a world of bodiless shades, 
but to our Father's home, where we shall 
know and be known in all the certainty 
and beatitude of a perfect recognition, and 
there, in the light of our Father's love, the 
tangled webs which have perplexed us will 
all be made plain. 

Bishop (Episcopal) of Minnesota. 



I regard the question of life hereafter 
as a question decided by the spiritual 
quality of individual character, rather than 
by the strength of any special argument. 
A man's inner certainty that his life ex- 
tends beyond the grave is the product of 
a spiritual condition, and not of an intel- 
lectual assent to the force of any logically 
worked-out chain of reasoning. The Chris- 
tian religion seeks to develop this pro- 
ductive spiritual condition in which the 
consciousness of personal immortality is a 
necessary, essential element. When a man 
denies that there is an immortal principle 
in his personality, the only way to make 
him change his denial into belief is to 
make him feel himself immortal ; and the 
way to acquire that sense of deathlessness 



is to open his nature to the influences of 
Christ's personality and his teaching about 
life ; that is to say, to develop his own 
personality and his conceptions of the 
sentiments, affections, and duties which 
belong to it, in association with the per- 
sonality of Jesus as depicted in the Gos- 
pels. To enter with vital sympathy into 
the mind of Christ, to see life as revealed 
in that atmosphere, is to incorporate into 
one's self a spiritual quality which instinc- 
tively seizes upon the conviction of immor- 
tality as a necessity of one's very being. 
One may hold a belief in life after death 
on the strength of some argument only ; 
but in that case he can hold his belief 
only so long as he encounters no stronger 
argument on the negative side. This is 
the inevitable condition of merely intel- 
lectual belief in all spiritual truths. And 
in the intellectual sphere the arguments 
for and against immortality — from Plato 
to our day — are so numerous and so va- 
ried in degrees of strength that there is 
no assurance that the belief resting on any 


of them may not be overthrown at a 
moment's notice, unless the intellectual 
believer is sure that the special argu- 
ment upon which he rests his belief is 
stronger than any conceivable argument 
which can be brought against it. I con- 
fess I know of no such invulnerable argu- 
ment on the affirmative side. It is quite 
possible that a materialistic lecturer, 
equipped with the latest conclusion of 
some atheistic scientist, might be able in 
an hour to sweep from every mind in his 
audience their belief in immortal life, 
simply because their purely mental hold 
on the doctrine was necessarily at the 
mercy of any strong novel attack. A 
spiritual hold on immortality is altogether 
another thing. Not having been gener- 
ated by the strength of any argument in 
its favor, it, therefore, cannot be shaken 
by any stronger argument opposed to it. 
Such a believer is unwounded on any in- 
tellectual battle-field. His faith is a per- 
vading element in his personality; it 
enters into all his ideas of the significance 


of life. It is because he feels an eternal 
quality in his life here on earth that he 
finds the idea of life eternal after death 
a natural unshaken consciousness in his 
deepest self. 

Of course, there are degrees of strength 
in the many proofs which are urged in 
support of the doctrine of a life hereafter, 
but I must confess my inability to select 
any one or more of them as the most 
invulnerable. None of them is without 
flaw, and the strongest on the affirmative 
side to-day may have no strength against 
some new argument on the negative side 
to-morrow. Believers in immortality may 
read such proofs with pleasurable interest, 
but with no sense of dependence upon 
them for a conviction, which, as I said, is 
an essential fact of their spiritual nature, 
developed in them by their association 
with the spirit of Christ, who brought im- 
mortality to light ; and, on the other hand, 
no real denier is ever convinced by them. 

It might, however, be of use for the 
sincere .doubter to. engage in pne strictly 


logical exercise. It is this : Let him ac- 
cept the idea of annihilation, and then 
follow out its relentless logical significance 
into all departments of personal life. Let 
him look, with honest mind, at what it 
says of the nature and significance of what 
we call duty and love and self-sacrifice ; 
let him accept its stern deliverance touch- 
ing the extinction by death of everything 
that gives glory, beauty, and meaning to 
human character; and then let him try 
to adapt himself — all his hopes and feel- 
ings — to that aspect of personal destiny. 
Let him do this with sincere determina- 
tion, unrelieved by adjacent Christian sen- 
timent, which so pften disguises the real 
significance of doubt. Let him try to live 
logically as a believer in annihilation ; let 
it shape his idea of his relation to his 
friends, his children, and humanity at 
large; let it shape his thoughts about 
those whom death takes from his side ; 
let him, I say, conform utterly to the idea 
of annihilation — not in a half -sentimental 
way, but absolutely; and then, perhaps, 


when he experiences that devastating 
creed, clouding every sacred fellowship of 
life with the idea of speedy termination, 
and chilling every noble ardor of the soul 
with the irony of death, he might find in 
his bleak experience an argument, not, 
indeed, sufficient to create faith in eternal 
life, but strong enough to turn him toward 
the idea of it, with, at least, a desire that 
it might be true. And when that desire 
stirs in the soul, it is, I must think, the 
beginning of that development of the spir- 
itual nature which grows into the unshaken 
conviction that there is a life beyond the 
grave. ^ 

Bector St. James 7 Church (Episcopal), Boston. 





You have asked me for no new thing 
when you ask, " What are the strongest 
proofs and arguments in support of the be- 
lief in a life hereafter?" There are some 
truths to which formal logic will never lead. 
There are truths which cannot be mathe- 
matically demonstrated. If I had to de- 
pend upon a process of reasoning to believe 
some things which are indubitably true, I 
never could believe. There is a great deal 
of confusion in our talking, if not in our 
thinking, these days, when we use the words 
knowledge and belief. There are just as 
many things believed as are Jcnoivn. The 
one set of things may be as true as the 

There are some things we never would 
know if we were never told them. We come 



into this world knowing so little that, if we 
were never told anything, we would go out 
of it much as we came into it. I do not 
believe that "life hereafter " is a discovery 
of anybody who is here, or anybody who 
ever was here only. 

Natural theology only does not furnish 
any one satisfactory proof or argument for 
immortality. "I hope," said Socrates, "I 
am now going to good men, though this I 
would not take upon me positively to af- 
firm." "Which of these," said Cicero (re- 
ferring to the two theories, of life or no life 
after death), " God only knows ; and which 
is most probable a very great question." 
Seneca said : " Immortality, however desir- 
able, was rather promised than proved by 
great men." I am prone to attach to the 
rational method much importance, but I do 
not believe pure reasoning, aside from reve- 
lation, ever could reveal immortality. Re- 
cent discussions which have pursued this 
method, in Germany, England, France, and 
America, result in about as much scepticism 
and as little knowledge as the ancients had. 


I therefore believe any simply rational doc- 
trine of immortality "a vague and ill- 
built " observation. 

" Immortality/' says Channing, " is the 
glorious discovery of Christianity." And 
Paul, to Timothy, said : " Jesus Christ hath 
abolished death and hath brought life and 
immortality to light through the Gospel." 
My " strongest proofs and arguments in 
support of the belief in a life hereafter," as 
of every other man who knows anything 
of immortality, are taken from revelation. 
Once the doctrine is revealed, I believe in 
the rational method and all evidence to be 
gathered from everywhere for verification. 
And the collateral and corroborative testi- 
mony to the truth of the revelation is wide- 
spread and far-reaching. 

My first proof, first argument, then, must 
come from the New Testament; this must 
have primary importance. All instances of 
life after death which are there cited are 
prima-facie evidence ; all testimony of Jesus, 
the evangelists, and apostles are matters for 
faith. % 


My next proof, next argument, the cor- 
roborative one, is the universal desire to live 
after death. " All men," says Theodore 
Parker, " desire to be immortal." The New 
Testament is verified. 

Then follows the almost universal expec- 
tation of men everywhere that they will 
live after death — the ignorant, the pagan, 
the infidel. Thomas Paine has inscribed 
upon his tombstone, at New Eochelle, N. Y., 
these words, taken from one of his books : 
" I . . . hope for happiness beyond this 
life." The Bible is verified. 

The purely philosophical argument is: 
There can be no moral system which is not 
based upon a future life. All ethics must 
look to the future life for justification. 
There can be no obligations to goodness, no 
evidence anywhere of justice, if man does 
not live after death. In the light of the 
future life, I would then appeal to "con- 
sciousness, conscience, and all the great 
principles on which life and society and 
government are founded," for ethical unity 
and harmony. 


In the light of the New Testament this 
life teaches another life, this world another 

Pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Somer- 
ville, Mass. 



Being a very busy man, nothing but the 
magic of a friend's name would induce me 
to reply to your question asking for 
"proofs and arguments in support of a 
belief in a life hereafter." 

You do not say " immortality/' which I 
consider a very different thing from a 
" continuance of life." 

The nearest argument is the very fact 
that such a question is asked, for it is im- 
possible that it should be asked unless 
man had an intuition that such continu- 
ance is a law. The next is that there is a 
wide-spread belief in it ; the belief in the 
opposite is held by only a few. The next 
is that all scriptures, in every age, declare 
it, in one way or another. Then, many 
have affirmed a knowledge of it ; and there 


is an undoubted mass of facts showing 
that something persists after death which 
bears some insignia of identity — as among 
the Spiritualists. But for me these are 
only facts whose tendency as proof is 
only cumulative. Indeed, were I driven 
to the wall, I must admit that the real 
argument and sole proof are found within 
each human breast. I need no proof or 
argument from without, because I inwardly 
know that the belief in life after death of 
the body is true ; for I start with the 
premise — well known in occultism and to 
theosophists — that the body is only a 
small portion of the man, and that, when 
the body dies, the man himself is not yet 
really dead ; he has other organs and other 
sorts of bodies, which have to die in their 

Your readers either have or have not 
introspective experience. If they have, 
they will need no argument to support this 
belief ; if they have not, no argument will 
convince them. 

On this subject we can only tell you that 


which you already know — it cannot be 
new ; and if you don't believe it, it is be- 
cause not yet has dawned within you the 
belief in a fact which at some period in 
your evolution — be it ages hence — will 
force itself upon you. 

New York. 



You ask me, " What are the strongest 
proofs and arguments in support of the 
belief in a life hereafter ? " 

In reply I would say that I attach 
weight to all the arguments commonly 
presented in defence of the doctrine of a 
future life. They are not, of course, to be 
taken as proof positive, because the future 
life lies out of our personal experience. 
They form together a system of lines con- 
verging to a common centre, and affording 
a high presumption of the truth of the fact 
toward which they point. 

1. The belief of mankind in all ages, a 
belief to all intents and purposes univer- 
sal, can best be explained upon the 



assumption of a primitive instinct to 
which the fact corresponds. We cannot 
believe that a conviction so interwoven 
with the very fibres of our moral and 
religious being can deceive us. Wi+h good 
reason Kant made immortality one of the 
three postulates of the practical reason, of 
the same rank with the doctrines of God 
and freedom. 

2. Then, to every one except the mate- 
rialist, there is force in the argument 
derived from the unity and indivisibility 
of the soul. Self -consciousness reveals in 
the human personality the one absolute 
unity of which we have any knowledge. 
Death means for the body dissolution and 
disintegration. Bat how can they befall 
the indivisible unity of the soul ? I do not 
regard this argument as affording anything 
more than a presumption. Its value ap- 
pears only when taken in connection with 
the other arguments. 

3. The fact that we do not attain in 
this life the full intellectual and moral 
stature which belong to us is a strong ar- 


gument that the process will be continued 
in another life. We are cut off just when 
we begin to be ready to do something in 
the world. We are like plants in an in- 
hospitable climate, which bear leaves and 
blossoms, but no fruit. Nature cannot do 
her work in vain. There must be some 
clime where we can bear our fruit. 

4. Nor would I leave out what is called 
the moral argument. Our moral nature de- 
clares that there is a fixed connection 
between goodness and happiness, between 
wrong-doing and suffering. In this world, 
however, this connection is not consist- 
ently maintained. Vktue suffers. Vice 
wins the great prizes. There must be a 
world where the adjustment will be made, 
where every man will get his due. 

5. Then, look at man himself. In the 
human personality we have something 
different from everything else in the world, 
higher and more valuable. One man is 
worth more than continents of natter. 
Such a creature will not be allowed to 
perish like the beasts. I ask with 


John Fiske : u Are we to regard the Cre- 
ator's work as like that of a child who 
builds houses out of blocks just for the 
pleasure of knocking them down ? " And, 
like Fiske, I find in the theory of evolu- 
tion one of the chief supports of this 

6. But the highest and most satisfactory 
evidence, to my mind, is that which 
Christianity furnishes. The fact that im- 
mortality is an essential part of that 
wonderful system of truth which Christ 
has given to mankind weighs so strongly 
with me that I am almost tempted to 
speak of it as proof positive. It becomes 
practically so when a man has come to the 
personal knowledge of God in Christ. 
Christian experience is a reality, with a 
certainty of its own, not less real than that 
which is produced by other kinds of expe- 
rience. He who lives the life of faith is 
already a partaker of eternal life. " And 
this is life eternal, that they should know 
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, 
whom thou hast sent." (John xvii. 3.) 


But the man who has eternal life now 
cannot doubt that he will have it here- 

Professor of Systematic Theology, Bangor Theological So* 
ciety, Bangor, Me. 



The question to which you solicit an 
answer is one of supreme importance. 
" What are the strongest proofs and argu- 
ments in support of the belief in a life 
hereafter?" I can, in a brief newspaper 
article, name only a few of the many evi- 
dences and arguments which appeal to my 
own mind as irrefragable proofs : — 

1. The essential life of man inheres in 
his mental and spiritual, and not in his 
material organism. The child grows be- 
cause he lives ; he does not live because he 
grows. My body is not me, it is mine. We 
recognize this central truth, even in the 
common language of life. I say my hand, 
my head, my body. No single member of 
my body is me, nor are all the members 



combined. They are all mine. Then, who 
am I, who own, use, and control these 
physical members, through which I com- 
municate with the material world ? I am 
a living, thinking, loving, and aspiring soul. 
I shall lay aside this material garment by 
and by. But the change will not neces- 
sarily involve death, any more than I 
necessarily die when I lay aside my gar- 
ments for my nightly repose. All the life 
that the body has to-day, it derives from 
the soul. It lives and moves, urged on by 
the invisible life. If the soul is capable of 
animating the body and giving it life, it 
may live independent of the body. If the 
soul is capable of weaving for itself this 
visible garment, it may weave another gar- 
ment when it lays this worn-out body 
down. These are only hints at arguments, 
which might be extended indefinitely, and 
buttressed until they would be impregnable 
as Gibraltar. 

2. We find evidence of a life hereafter 
in the circumstance that we cannot even 
think annihilation. I state, without hesi- 


tation, the proposition that extinction of 
being is not thinkable. If any one does 
not agree with me, let him sit down and 
deliberately try to think himself out of 
existence. He may imagine his body torn 
to atoms, burnt to ashes, scattered to the 
four winds of heaven. But thought is not 
extinguished. In spite of himself, he is 
there in thought, looking upon the ruin. 
No man ever did, or ever can, think thought 
out of existence. Now, it is difficult for us 
to believe that what we cannot even think 
can ever be. 

3. The almost universal belief in a life 
hereafter affords evidence approaching dem- 
onstration of a future life. Perhaps I ought 
to say the universal belief ; for if there are 
cases of absolute unbelief, they are so rare 
as only to emphasize the rule. It were 
strange, indeed, that universal man has 
conceived the thought, the expectation of 
a life beyond the grave, if the grave ends 
all. What ever put that idea into the hu- 
man mind, if it is only a lie, a cheating 
delusion ? 


4. Added to this expectation, we have 
an ardent desire for immortality. All men 
certainly want to live on. If they could 
have their way, death would not be the 
end. Now, want is a prophecy of destiny. 
So perfectly has the Creator adjusted his 
universe that there is no want for which no 
provision has been made. This truth finds 
illustrations in every department of nature. 
Plant a seed in the earth, and, under the 
fostering influence of the elements, it ger- 
minates. A root strikes downward, seek- 
ing something — seeking moisture. Moist- 
' ure is. It does not go out in quest of 
something that does not exist, but of some- 
thing that does exist. The blade comes 
upward, seeking something — air and sun- 
light. Air and sunlight are. God has 
made provision for this want of the grow- 
ing corn. So of every creature that lives. 
You cannot conceive of any want of a fish 
that swims, or a beast that roams, or a bird 
that flies, for which no provision has been 
made. It may not be able to reach out and 
take on the instant that which it desires. 


But there is somewhere in the universe that 
which will answer its every want. Take 
the physical wants of man as an illustra- 
tion. He is hungry , and the earth teems 
with abundance. He is thirsty, and a 
spring bubbles at his feet. He desires 
companionship, and friends are all about 
him, to share his love and to return their 
own. It is not possible to conceive of any 
material want of man for which no pro- 
vision has been made. And is it rational 
to believe, when the Creator of the universe 
— whether vou call that Creator mind or 
law — has so carefully adjusted things that, 
in plant and animal and man, want and 
supply balance each other, so that there is 
no natural desire which may not somewhere 
find its natural gratification, that when we 
come to the higher wants of man, the 
wants of his mind, his heart, his soul, the 
law breaks, and for his most central and 
essential desire there is no provision what- 
ever ? Better say, in the name of science, 
that all the planets spin and shine, moved 
on and illuminated by attraction and light, 


but that there is no sun which is the source 
of that light and attraction, than to say, 
either in the name of science or religion, 
that, while man has this hunger for immor- 
tality, there is for him no such experience 
as an immortal life. The same line of argu- 
ment which supports the general doctrine 
of immortality proves equally a blessed 
immortality, not only for us, but for our 
friends and for all God's children. If I de- 
sire immortal life at all, I desire that it 
may be a good and a blessed life. And if 
I desire to live hereafter at all, I would 
have my friends to share it with me. And 
if I am a Christian, this same good which 
I crave for myself and my friends I would 
see extended to every rational creature of 

5. Another impregnable argument might 
be built upon the tenacity with which man 
clings to his own identity. He not only 
wants to live, but he would live in his es- 
sential selfhood. He would not, if he 
could, sink himself, his consciousness, his 
memory, his personality, into that of any 


other man or even angel. He may covet 
the wealth, or the position, the knowledge, 
the power, the fame of another. But he 
would carry his own conscious personality 
into that position; he would enjoy that 
wealth, or knowledge, or fame. Why were 
we endowed with this intense clinging, not 
to life alone, but to our own conscious per- 
sonal life, if it may be to-morrow or next 
year, and surely will be in a few years, 
snuffed out like an expiring lamp ? 

6. The conscious assurance of immor- 
tality which comes to most men as they 
draw near the close of mortal life is not 
without significance as bearing on this 
question. I have for many years been 
often with the sick and dying, and I have 
never known a man to go out of life ex- 
pressing doubts of a life to come. I have 
known men who, during health and in the 
earlier stages of disease, expressed doubts 
of a hereafter. But invariably, so far as 
my observation extends, these men, as mor- 
tal strength ebbed away, let go their doubts, 
and grew into the satisfying faith of an 


immortal life. At the last tliey were 
ready, without a doubt, or fear, or tear, to 
meet the marvellous change. It would 
seem as if the direct opposite must be the 
case if faith in a hereafter be a delusion. 
It would seem as if the dream of a future 
life — if it be a dream — would lose its 
spell upon us as we approach and face the 
awful fact of annihilation. How shall we 
account for the exultation which many ex- 
perience in death — sometimes even little 
children — and the angels whom they see 
about their beds, except on the supposition 
that ministering spirits do come to waft 
their spirits home ? And how shall we 
account for that consciousness of immor- 
tality which so many experience, and which 
seems as real as any other truth of con- 
sciousness, save on the ground that it is a 
blessed foretaste of a real inheritance ? 

7. These views of nature are all con- 
firmed by the teachings of revelation. 
Standing at the graves of their friends, the 
ancients were accustomed to say, in the 
anguish of their spirits : " There is hope of 


a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout 
again ; but man dieth and wasteth away, 
yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is 
he ? " They saw that nature did not die. 
" The teil tree and the oak " retained their 
" substance when they cast their leaves." 
And so the question rose in their minds : 
" Is man less than a tree ? " " Where is 
he when the body drops like a fading leaf, 
or as the tree falls before the strokes of the 
woodman's axe ? " This question was an- 
swered at the open tomb of Christ. The 
angels who had guarded that tomb said to 
the inquiring women : " He is not here, but 
is risen." And the Master, who had been 
crucified, appeared to them, and talked 
with them, and showed them his hands and 
his side, and so thoroughly convinced them 
and all of his disciples that " He who lived 
and was dead was now alive for evermore," 
that, in the strength of this conviction, they 
rallied from their despair and went forth to 
conquer the world to Christ. There is no 
other fact of ancient history which is sus- 
tained by such an array of evidence, exter- 


nal and internal, as the life, death, and 
resurrection of Christ. For every doubt 
which can be thrown upon it, an equal 
doubt can be thrown upon the life of Caesar 
or Alexander or Napoleon. He was a man, 
our brother. He lived a life akin to ours. 
He died, as we must all die. He lives, and 
so in him we have evidence that we shall 
live. He is the first fruits of the harvest. 
Not first to live beyond death, as all the sons 
of Adam before him had risen above the 
shock of dissolution, but first to gain full 
perfection of life, and a pledge that the 
other members of God's rational family 
shall gain full perfection of life. And so 
the believing disciple can say, with all the 
assurance of St. Paul of old, "We know 
that if this earthly house of our tabernacle 
were dissolved, we have a building of God, 
a house not made with hands, eternal in 
the heavens." Yes, we know it from the 
intuitions and aspirations of our own souls, 
from the teachings of revelation, from the 
resurrection of the man Christ Jesus, and 
from daily communion which many of us 


feel with our friends who have passed on 
out of sight, and " with the spirits of just 
men made perfect in heaven." 

Pastor First Unlversalist Churchy Boston. 



The arguments in support of the intui- 
tive conviction of immortality, which is an 
endowment of human nature it self , are 
many. No wise man will make light of 
any of them ; he will rather feel that each 
strengthens the rest, and that all together 
make a twisted chain, which compels the 
reason and the faith. 

The Christian bases his reasonable trust 
on the Gospel. There is not one of the 
promises of Jesus Christ which has not 
stayed the bleeding wounds of countless 
hearts, not a chapter of the New Testa- 
ment which is not transfigured by the un- 
derlying faith in immortality ; and, back of 
all these, as the evidence for this immortal 
expectation, is the solid fact of Jesus Christ 
himself. His life, lived in the sight of 



men, and manifestly full of an undying 
spirit, is as real as any fact of science ; his 
rising from the dead is attested by compan- 
ions who died to affirm it, and vouched for 
by the existence of the Christian church, 
which would be a continuous miracle, eigh- 
teen hundred years long, if it did not touch 
that fact at the beginning. 

But the proof which Christianity gives 
of immortality rests on a broader and 
deeper foundation than isolated texts alone, 
or even than the Gospel record and the 
visible church. It is in the whole spirit of 
the religion which Jesus taught and the 
new spirit which he breathed into human- 
ity. Yet the Christian faith in immortality 
does not disparage the arguments from 
natural religion. They are worth much as 
illustrations and probabilities, while yet 
they become brighter with the light re- 
flected back upon them from Christianity. 
The analogies from processes of nature ap- 
peal to the imagination — i. e., to the poetic 
side of the mind. They are images of 
what we would gladly hope is repeated in a 


diviner way with man. The earth's wak- 
ing from winter's sleep, flooded with light 
and joy and life ; the insect fluttering forth 
in beauty from the grave it had spun for 
itself when a chill wind smote it, — these are 
gracious emblems of the diviner spring of 
the soul, of the spirit rising again. But 
the force of such illustrations depends 
largely on our mood. A cold and cloudy 
day, or an overcast spirit, may abash our 

The argument from the incompleteness 
of the present life has a higher value. At 
the best, this life is broken and partial, with 
aspirations which cannot be satisfied and 
powers which can never find adequate use 
unless beyond the narrow horizon of earth. 
" Man can only be reckoned on any ground 
as a provisionally successful work — success- 
ful, that is, provided we regard him as in 
transitu, on his way to another and far 
more perfect stage of development." Nor 
are these capacities which demand fulfil- 
ment elsewhere only a dream of our weaker 
moments ; they are an instinct, strongest 


when men are at their best. If immor- 
tality were a delusion, the persons deceived 
would be the noblest of our race, and their 
leader, Christ, in the solemn pathos of his 
cross, would be but the loftiest victim. 
Would God himself be perfect wisdom and 
perfect truth if he permitted men to labor 
under an impossible hope, just in propor- 
tion to the height they reached ? 

These considerations are touched with 
living power by the Christian doctrine of 
the worth of the human soul as a being 
capable of communion with God, and loved 
by him. Could Abraham or Jacob, in their 
night-watch under the Chaldean sky, have 
wrung from the pitying stars the secret of 
the Divine Name if they were to live 
scarcely longer than their bleating flocks ? 
Can they who have once drunk at the im- 
mortal fountain of the Divine Presence be- 
oome a handful of dust, dry as the desert 
sands they used to cross ? The love of the 
creature of a day could hardly reach to the 
Infinite and Eternal and win his answering 
care; nor could the qualities of an atom 


" crushed before the moth " image to us the 
Power who is "from everlasting to ever- 
lasting." The fact, then, that men can 
know Him by faith is a proof of their im- 
mortality, for how could they know one to 
whom they were not akin ? In that con- 
tact with God the soul is a " partaker of 
the Divine Nature/' and he is brought into 
such connection with the lives of men that 
they must share his Infinite Life. 

All these considerations justify that 
strong word of Emerson : " I have always 
thought that faith in immortality was a 
proof of the sanity of a mans nature." 

J$U&*Ay CO '(J^-vCkIj? 

Pastor of King's Chapel (Congregational-Unitarian), 



To my mind, the strongest arguments for 
the doctrine of immortality are the fol- 
lowing : — 

First — The universal presence of this 
which Emerson calls " man's audacious be- 
lief in a future life." " In the minds of all 
men, or wherever man appears/' says Em- 
erson, u this belief appears with him — in 
the savage, savagely ; in the pure, purely." 

Second — The fact that nature never de- 
ceives any of her children in the matter of 
instinct. The mole burrows; the water- 
fowl flies south at the approach of winter ; 
the bull calf butts with smooth and unarmed 
brow. Safety is found in all animal life by 
obeying the animal instincts. Yet man is 

the only creature which has the religious 



instinct. Therefore, God must be the end 
to which the religious instinct leads. 

Third — The fact of the Christian reve- 
lation. This gives us a " hope of eternal 
life, which God, that cannot lie, promised 
before the world began." 

Fourth — The fact of the historic Christ, 
and the inductional theology which comes 
from this central article of belief. 

Rector of St Stephen's Church (Episcopal), Pittsfield, 

There is nothing more refreshing to pick up In 
odd minutes than a bright collection out of the 
poetry of all time of the brightest on almost no 
matter what subject, even the weather. 

Through the Year with the Poets, edited by Oscar Fay 
Adams. A volume a month of about 140 pages each, with 
ample indices. 16mo, cloth, 75 cents each; parti-colored cloth, 

And dainty book-making has much to do with 
the pleasure of scrappy reading. 

New Every Morning, a year-book for girls, by 
Annie H. Ryder, is a helpful thought or two, out of 
current writers mainly, for every day in the year ; 
not religious, but chosen for serious aptitude to 
the state of things in the world we live in. 196 
pages. Square 16mo, cloth. $1.00. 

Notable Prayers of Christian History. By Hez- 
ekiah Butterworth. So far as we know, there is 
no other book in which are gathered the notable 
prayers of devout men of all times with their 
biographical and historical connections. 304 pages. 
16mo, cloth, 1.00. 

Let not the bookseller venture a word on so ab- 
struse a subject as Browning. 

Christmas Eve and Easter Day, and Other Poems. By 
Robert Browning. Introduction by W. J. Rolfe. The Theory 
of Robert Browning concerning Personal Immortality by 
Heloise Edwina Hersey. With notes. 175 pages. 16mo, cloth, 
75 cents. 

For Browning Classes and Clubs. The text is 
in very generous type. 

Faith and Action is an F. D. Maurice Anthology. 
Preface by Phillips Brooks. The subjects are: 
Life, Men, Reforms, Books, Art, Duty, Aspira- 
tion, Faith. 269 pages. 12mo, cloth, $1.00. 

The praise of a book of travel is rightly held to 
be "It is next to the journey itself." 

Some Things Abroad. By Rev. Alexander McKenzie, 
D. D. 450 pages. 12mo, cloth, $1.50. 

You sit by your evening lamp and read, as If 
from the letters of a friend, the record of his 
daily experiences. He sees the north and south 
of Europe, via Constantinople into Asia, the Holy 
Land, etc. 

As in the case of friendly letters, your enjoy- 
ment in reading depends on the writer's geniality 
quite as much as on the news he has to tell of his 
wanderings. AYhat could be more agreeable than 
to be taken thus to the far-off haunts of seekers 
after knowledge and pleasure without the toilsome 
goings and waitings and coming back at the end 
of it all. You have the shade of your own home 
trees in the hot afternoon and delicious sleep in 
your own home bed and the sound of your break- 
fast bell in the morning; nevertheless you have 
seen Some Things Abroad and talked them over 
delightfully. You probably know quite as much 
about them as many who bear the tossings and 
dust and tossings again of a journey a quarter 
round the world. For our part we ask no better 
company. Dr. McKenzie tells it off so gayly, we 
can hardly believe in the hardships of seeing. 

The book has the air of talking over the day in 
the cool of the evening, only two or three of us 

Garland from the Poets, selection of short 
miscellaneous poems by Coventry Patmore, with 
not a word of comment or explanation beyond the 
poets' names. 250 pages, 128 poems. 16mo, cloth, 
75 cents. 

Deacidified using the Bookkeeper process 
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